Noted champion of the liberal arts and the humanities to speak at Founders Day

Publication Date

Laura Skandera Trombley, president of Pitzer College and a nationally

recognized champion of liberal arts education, will deliver the keynote address at Founders Day Thursday, Feb. 26, at 1p.m. in Memorial Chapel.

Laura Skandera Trombley

The event commemorates the 220th anniversary of the College’s charter.

Trombley, whose visit coincides with the recent opening of Karp Hall, will talk on “The Enduring Value of the Humanities.”

Trombley became the fifth president of Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., in July 2002. Among her accomplishments, she has completed three successful fundraising campaigns, dramatically raised the school’s profile, decreased student debt and bolstered the college’s endowment. Under her leadership, the school has become one of the most selective in the country and boasts one of the highest numbers of Fulbright Fellowships.

A noted Mark Twain scholar, Trombley is the author of five books, including Mark Twain in the Company of Women and Mark Twain's Other Woman: The Hidden Story of His Final Years.

In June, she will become president of The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, one of the world’s leading centers of humanities research, in San Marino, Calif.

“We are delighted to have someone of Dr. Trombley’s stature join us to help celebrate our founding,” said President Stephen C. Ainlay. “She is an accomplished scholar, a tremendous leader in higher education and a true champion of the liberal arts experience.”

Trombley received her bachelor’s degree in English and humanities and her master’s degree in English (summa cum laude) from Pepperdine University. She received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California.

In December 2012, President Obama appointed Trombley to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board; she was elected vice chair of the board last November.

To read a December 2014 profile of Trombley in the Los Angeles Times, click here.

Also at Founders Day, the College will present the Gideon Hawley Teacher Recognition Award. Named for the 1809 graduate of Union who was New York state’s first superintendent of public education, the award is given to secondary school teachers who have had a continuing influence on the academic life of Union students.

Past Founders Day speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Richard Russo and James M. McPherson; Paul LeClerc, retired president and chief executive officer of the New York Public Library and a former professor at Union; Alfred Sommer ’63 global leader in public health whose pioneering work in studying vitamin A deficiency has helped to save millions of children’s lives and eyesight; and Martha Nussbaum, noted author and philosopher.